City councilor proposes gas tax to tackle road project backlog

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a never-ending game of catch-up as the city tries to repair its aging roads. A city councilor thinks boosting Albuquerque’s gas tax by two cents per gallon will put a dent in the big backlog of city street infrastructure projects.

“We keep using the roads and the roads keep needing work,” City Councilor Isaac Benton explained. “In the vicinity of $4.5 million to $5 million a year, we would generate [with this tax].”

Revenues from Benton’s proposed Municipal Gasoline Tax would help rehab public streets and roadways. Right now, the Tax and Revenue Department states New Mexico drivers are paying just shy of 17-cents a gallon in gas taxes, just about the lowest in the country. Alaska has the lowest gas tax at 14 cents per gallon and California has the highest at 62 cents, according to Tax Foundation.

Revenue for road projects is already coming in through a voter-approved quarter-cent Gross Receipts Tax. But, Benton said there’s a need for this additional tax as Albuquerque has a grand total of half a billion dollars worth of street infrastructure work needed, plus, he says at least $350 million more to make sidewalks and curbs ADA compliant.

This tax would put a dent in that and is estimated to generate funding for about $53.6 million work of road projects over the next 15 years. Albuquerque’s gas prices are consistently on the low end when compared with the rest of the country. According to AAA, Albuquerque’s rate is currently about 27-cents less than the national average at $1.96 a gallon.

It’s one reason why some drivers say they wouldn’t mind paying more at the pump. “I’m for it, just because there are so many streets that need a lot of work that are pretty dangerous with all the potholes,” Gloria Chavez of Albuquerque stated.

“I wouldn’t mind a bit,” added Connie Martz of Albuquerque. A national group representing state legislatures across the U.S. recently found that 31 states have raised their gas taxes since 2013 to help fund street maintenance. New Mexico’s rate hasn’t changed since 1993.

Councilor Benton proposed a gas tax boost back in 2017, but councilors never voted on it. This time around, the ordinance has already passed a city finance committee. Councilor Benton said this isn’t the year for the increase to happen because of the pandemic. If the council does sign off on it, it would go on the ballot for voter approval next year.

Gas Tax Proposal

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